On account of the COVID-19 outbreak, many employers are requiring employees submit to temperature checks prior to entering the place of employment or their specific job. For New Jersey Public Safety Officers, this is no different. To this end, the State of New Jersey and many counties, towns, and municipalities are requiring officers submit to temperature checks prior to entering places of employment such as correctional facilities and station houses and/or reporting to their specific assignments and/or posts. Recently, we had a number of unions inquire as to whether officers should be compensated for the time spent submitting to such temperature checks and waiting in line for the same.
Although it is a fact-sensitive determination, New Jersey Public Safety Officers may be compensated for submitting to temperature checks under certain circumstances. Specifically, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947 provide potential avenues to obtain the same. Under these laws, the operative question will be whether the temperature check is an “integral and indispensable” part of an officer’s job. As such, questions such as whether the temperature check is mandatory prior to an officer starting his/her shift and whether the same is conducted on the employer’s premises become highly relevant. If it can be established that the temperature check serves as a “barrier” of sorts for an officer to engage in their job, the time spent submitting to the temperature checks and waiting in line is likely compensable.
During these uncertain times and the dangers they are facing on a daily basis, it is imperative the rights of all New Jersey Public Safety Officers are protected and they are receiving the compensation to which they are due and owed. As such, please feel free to contact us to discuss this issue, or any other issue, in further detail. Thank you for all that you are doing and stay safe.